Josh Chandler | November 28, 2017

Exploring the Causes of Addiction

Addiction does not stem from one single cause. Click here for an article that will explore the numerous different addiction causes.

If you or a loved one has ever struggled with addiction, you know the trials and tribulations that come with trying to focus on a positive recovery for everyone involved.

Most people have a difficult time getting over addiction or helping someone recover because they simply don’t know how it started. How does someone become addicted to drugs or alcohol, after all?

There are actually a few different causes for addiction that are even beyond the control of the substance abuser. It’s not just a lack of willpower like scientists thought previously. Many studies have been done to date that attribute addiction causes to underlying factors that play a significant role in how people use drugs.

Here, we’re discussing addiction causes so that you can help yourself or a loved one better understand what you’re dealing with. Keep reading to learn more.

Breaking Down Addiction

Some scientists think that addiction starts in the brain. It’s something that happens over time and as we well know, it’s difficult to reverse, if at all possible. There is still controversy in the scientific community as to how to classify addiction.

One model for addiction causes lies in disease. This conception is supported by the changes that occur in the brain as a result of continued substance abuse. The brain actually adapts to the substance and uses it to perform naturally.

While it could be a choice to use a substance for the first time, over extended use, the behavioral patterns of the user cause neurological changes to occur.

Addiction causes lie in other sources that contribute to this effect.


The environment you or your loved one suffering from addiction is living in will impact drug use. For example, peer pressure will influence a person to continue drug use. When a person is influenced by people they know and trust and sometimes love, they are often unable to detach from them.

In children and young adults, poor parental supervision can be one of the most severe addiction causes that’s overlooked. If parents aren’t aware of their children’s behavior and subsequent disciplinary habits aren’t instilled, there is a higher risk for addiction.

Likewise, parents that are involved in criminal activity or use drugs themselves will likely have children that are at risk of abusing substances. This may occur due to parents introducing the children to drugs, modeling negative behaviors or creating stressful environments.

Poverty is also linked to addiction. If you live in a poor community, you may be more likely to become addicted to drugs due to the stressors and limited opportunities.


A person can inherit specific traits from their parents such as follows:

  • Physical Traits
  • Behavioral Traits
  • Health Problems

Physical traits represent our appearance such as hair and eye color. Behavioral traits may influence how a person acts, including using drugs. And, a person may be predisposed to medical conditions inherited from their parents, such as cancer.

It’s also important to remember that environmental factors can impact and even alter traits in an individual.

Studies show that genetics play a significant role in addiction. It is considered moderately to highly heritable, in fact. Scientists have broken down specific genes that they think are associated with different addiction causes.

Mental Health Disorders

A person that suffers from a mental health disorder is more likely to also develop a problem with addiction.

If both a mental health disorder and addiction are present, it is considered a dual diagnosis. Many factors can influence these problems including genetics, a history of trauma, and the environment.

Research scientists believe that an overlap between mental health disorders and drug or alcohol addiction may be influenced by both genetics and neurological influences. Genes may play a vital role in how a person copes with stress, which can increase the risk for addiction. Neurotransmitters in the brain are impacted by substance abuse.

Additionally, changes in the brain due to a mental health condition can impact how a person experiences a drug.

Family History

Family history is a combined effect of genetics and the environment.

A person that has been subject to a parent with an addiction problem is more likely to develop a problem themselves. This may be caused by an underlying mental health condition that was never properly diagnosed or other environmental factors like abuse from a parent.

Drug or alcohol addiction can skip a generation or generations if a person doesn’t inherit the genes that cause addiction. Although people with parents that suffer from addiction may still have trauma or other related conditions when they’re older.


When a person is exposed to trauma in their youth, it can have a significant impact on their physical and emotional health.

Examples of trauma include but are not limited to the following:

  • Witnessing violence
  • Physical abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical or emotional neglect

Some people can develop a disorder now known as PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder when exposed to traumatic events over a period of time.

Symptoms of PTSD include but are not limited to the following:

  • Startling easily
  • Memory problems
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Frightening thoughts
  • Feeling sad, worried, or guilty
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks

Research shows us that many people that suffer from PTSD also suffer from substance addiction and use. People with PTSD may use drugs or alcohol to help them cope with stress and to relieve symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and irritability.

Final Thoughts on Addiction Causes

Drug addiction is traumatic for everyone involved and helping someone with a problem requires delicate attention and care. There are many types of addiction treatment available, but it also depends on the person dealing with the addiction to make a concentrated choice to get better. You can’t force anyone.

Forcing will only make a situation worse and maybe even push the individual to pursue taking more or harder drugs to distance themselves or purposely rebel.

Take it one step at a time with your loved one to help them see what’s happening to them and what their addiction does to family and friends. Contact us for support and further education on making recovery a reality.

Addiction,Alcohol Addiction,Drug Addiction,Recovery,Rehab,Treatment,
Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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